Cricketers avoid getting caught out by keeping an eye on their data
“We’ll have to look at the data...”
That’s not exactly what I would expect to hear from a former England cricket coach, all the same it shows that cricket has come a long way from the cigarette/pint/stretch in the morning culture that was prevalent in the 1990s. Today’s players wake up, log into their smart phone and track each detail of data throughout the day, which then gets scrutinised by the coaching team.
The growth and use of analytics within in cricket is proof that data can feature in many sectors of society you wouldn’t automatically consider. As well as the national teams, most counties will employ a part time performance analysis whose job is collating data on both their team as well as the opposition. This data is then fed back to the coaching team, who in turn will use this to plan the next match and come up with tactics when facing specific players. Gone are the days when you relied on your gnarled senior pro to tell you that ‘he hates it on his legs’ or ‘don’t drop it short as it will be smacked into next week.’ Even in the standards of local cricket teams it’s entirely possible to bring up a player’s stats, or even see the shot selection or pitching map.
Cricket has actually been a world leader in some aspects of technology and data, for example cricket was the first sport to use the Hawk Eye product during the England v Pakistan game at Lords on the 21st May 2001. Hawkeye systems are based on the principles of triangulation using visual images and timing data provided by a number of high speed cameras, located at different locations and angles around the field of play. As well as being used for LBW adjudication, coaching teams can use video replay analysis to build up an image of where a bowler may pitch a ball during their spell, or where a batsman may choose to play a shot. Once this data is built up it can then be collated over time, enabling a look back at how a batsman may have overcome a flaw in their technique, or how to play against a bowler. Of course, it can also be used to root out and expose a batting weakness!
As data usage increases and the role of a performance analyst is expected to be full time within the next few years, it certainly brings an X Factor to a sport deemed by many to be stuffy and slow. Now if only we got the data right this past winter in Australia....
Authored by David Popple, Tiger Account Manager and Cricket enthusiast and local team player.